Everyone who spends a lot of their time driving needs to have a dash cam. For such a small investment, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. And if you are reading this article, you probably understand that most dash cam setups are powered through the 12V power adapter in your car. But for a multitude of reasons you need a different setup, one that doesn’t require a 12V adapter. That’s where we come in to help you find the best battery operated dash cam.
There can be several reasons why your car doesn’t work with a conventional setup. The adapter could be broken, your car doesn’t have one available or you want to be more mobile for security reasons can all be valid reasons why you are seeking alternatives. If you get in an accident where your battery is damaged, your dash cam will shut off within seconds as there is no power. This can be crucial to you as recording the immediate aftermath of an accident is just as important as the accident itself.
Whatever the reason may be, we have come up with the best ways to battery power your dash cam. We can provide solutions, but it is ultimately up to you to figure out what works best for your unique situation. Let’s jump right in.
Portable Battery Pack or Power Bank
We want to first start off with the method that we know can work for the majority of people. This solution uses a USB rechargeable battery pack to power your dash cam. If you are like me, I remember battery packs being unreliable, running out of power quickly or the battery capacity would shrink. With great advancements in batteries, this is no longer the case. Portable power banks are a viable solution to powering up many electronics such as a dash cam, your phone, headphones and any other devices. This solution may be better than hard wiring (more on this later) for vehicles that have smaller battery capacity.
If you don’t know how a power bank works, it essentially is a portable battery. Fully charge the power bank and then plug in your dash cam’s power cord. What’s nice about a power bank is that you can use this with any dash cam because they are powered with a USB cable.
RAVPower 32000mAh Power Bank
The first battery pack we recommend is the RAVPower 32000mAh Power Bank. RAVPower is a highly rated battery brand and we trust their quality from first hand experience. Having 32,000mAh battery capacity means that any single channel (single camera) dash cam should last up to 8 hours without a recharge. This is a perfect capacity for running your dash cam for security overnight or an entire week in a typical commute.
I also enjoy the convenience of the power bank having three USB ports which allows me to charge my phone fast. This can charge my phone 6 times over. Moving onto the logistics, there are LED lights indicating remaining charge and RAVPower offers a worry-free 18 month warranty. When first purchasing this, I was worried about the possibility of the battery exploding and malfunctioning. I haven’t come across any issues and neither have other users. This power bank is a great pick up for anyone casually using a dash cam or need mobile power on-the-go.
Cellink NEO Battery Pack
The next power bank we recommend are for those who drive for a living, or have long commutes. The Cellink NEO Battery Pack is a heavy duty product that is specifically made for dash cams, no matter if its single or dual channeled.
The main difference between the first and second power bank is the Cellink can run a dash cam for up to 48 hours. If you are the forgetful type and don’t charge this everyday, this is the power bank for you. It also comes with a hardwiring kit if you want to connect this battery to your car battery. This would allow you to charge your power bank via car battery. You could also charge this via cigarette lighter, but the charge would be slower. It also allows you to connect to your smartphone and let you monitor the battery level.
Since power banks allow you to use any dash cam of your choosing, we’re recommending our most favorite dash cams.
Rexing V1 Dash Cam
The Rexing V1 is a 4K dash cam that is packed with features, all at a reasonable price. Design-wise, its simple, compact and durable. This would be good for casual drivers, who want something to work on day one. Since this dash cam has WiFi abilities, you don’t have to mess with downloading footage with the microSD card, you can review it all on your phone. It also sports a super 170 degree wide angle to capture most of the road. The security features like the parking monitor and loop recording pair well with the power bank to ensure your car is secure when you aren’t there.
APEMAN Mini Dash Cam
For those who want a small form factor dash cam, the APEMAN Mini Dash Cam will fit you perfectly. Like the previous dash cam, the APEMAN has a lot of the same features. It includes parking mode, great night vision and a wide field of view. It films in a 1080p resolution unlike the Rexing filming in 4k. And the APEMAN does not include a WiFi option which may make or break your decision. If you only feel that you’ll rarely want to review your footage then you should forgo WiFi functionality. This cam comes in cheaper than the Rexing and the price reflects the missing features.
Hardwiring into your car battery
Besides the mobile power bank solution, you can decide to hook up your dash cam directly into your car battery. Technically, it is still battery operated! This process is called hardwiring. The benefits to doing it this is that you have the option to have the dash cam record even when the key is out of the ignition. It will draw a small amount of power from your car battery. Not enough to drain the car completely, but enough to monitor your car overnight. One downside to hard wiring is it is a little cumbersome to install into your car. A car electrician can easily do it or some quick YouTube videos will help you as well.
This universal hardwiring kit works for all dash cams on the market. To judge its quality we look for all the different adapters, the wiring durability and wire length. When we installed this, it had no issue with our Toyota Camry and provided plenty of slack to navigate to our car battery.
This second hardwiring kit is specifically made for Vantrue dash cams, another high quality dash cam brand. There are less adapters and have been thoroughly tested with Vantrue dash cams. We recommend checking out this hardwiring kit if you decide to go with a Vantrue dash cam. Here’s our favorite Vantrue dash cam.
Vantrue N2 Pro
This is a go-to dash cam, especially if you are a Uber, Lyft or taxi driver. This is because it has a cabin dash cam, to monitor the inside of your car. The cabin camera has a infrared night vision lens to maximize clarity in low light conditions. It sports a 2.5k resolution at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. The higher the Frames per Second (FPS), the more data it captures. Higher FPS provides better clarity for things like license plates. We really like the Vantrue brand as they offer a 18 month warranty.
Non-Traditional Dash Cams
Our last method is to re-purpose other devices that aren’t traditionally dash cams to deliver you the best battery operated dash cam. Sounds ironic, right? There’s a high probability that you actually already have this device and are using it for another activity. Let’s jump right in.
GoPro Hero5 Black
That’s right, an action sports camera. These are small factor cameras that are used in sports or rugged areas. This can be used in a pinch in a dash cam setup. There are a couple ways of going about it. One is use the camera as is. The latest version of GoPro will record for 2 hours, not a horrible recording time. While this setup doesn’t have many of the traditional dash cam features such as G-Sensor, Loop Recording or Parking Mode, it does have a wide viewing angle and WiFi capabilities. You can stream your footage live if that interests you. Otherwise you can use the GoPro for other outdoor activities.
A lesser known action camera brand is the RunCam 5. It is a 4k resolution action camera that has a 120 minute recording time. Depending on what you are doing, sometimes recording for 2 hours is plenty of time. What we like about this design is that it is super discrete. You can hide or mount it anywhere if you don’t want to call attention to the recording camera. We also like that it has the ability to record in slow motion 120fps at 1080p. You can also connect to your phone to change settings, view footage or manage remotely.
Your personal phone
In a pinch, using your own phone is viable and sometimes necessary. It doesn’t have to be your main phone, perhaps you have an older model you don’t use anymore. If the only thing it needs to do is record, then you put that to better use than having it live in a box.
There are many different ways you can find the best battery operated dash cam that fits your needs. There isn’t just one universal solution and you’ll have to be creative to figure out how to best use technology to deliver what you’re looking for. I hope I’ve inspired you with some ideas!